1 Best Practices to Generate More Sales Leads and Improve Lead Quality Using Toll-free Vanity Numbers Published March 2013
2 Table of Contents The Channels of Lead Generation Are Expanding Are They Also Weakening?... 2 Best Practices to Generate Higher Quality Leads and Have More Successful Sales Conversations... 3 Traditional Advertising vs. Digital A Well-Rounded Mix... 4 The Value of Inbound Phone Calls vs. Online Leads... 5 Types of Phone Numbers to Use as Response Tools... 6 a. Vanity 800 Toll-free Numbers... 7 b. Alternate Toll-free Vanity Numbers... 7 c. Numeric Toll-free Numbers... 8 d. Local Phone Number... 8 How to Get More Valuable Leads; Quantity and Quality... 9 Tracking Leads Back to the Source to Prove Out Marketing Strategies Conclusion About 800response... 12
3 The Channels of Lead Generation Are Expanding Are They Also Weakening? Most businesses agree that building relationships is a key component to a successful sales organization. Yet, in this ever-growing digital age, internet-driven communications are becoming more prevalent. And while an online presence is certainly an important component of the media mix, the opportunity cost of providing consumers with only an online response mechanism is too high to justify a strategy that omits immediate, live dialogue. US consumers prefer to resolve their customer service issues using the telephone (90%), face to face (75%), company website or (67%), online chat (47%), text message (22%), social networking site (22%) - Source: American Express 2011 Global Customer Service Barometer After all, it is well-known that interactions within the online environment are inherently impersonal and provide people with many opportunities to shop the competition, remain anonymous, and noncommittal, where as a live conversation immediately starts to build trust and relationships. These less engaged communication paths include click-to-chat, web contact forms, s, and even texting. Regardless of the product, service, or industry, Sales Managers share one common opinion, that a live conversation is always preferred as it is a stronger, more direct path to a sale. With these live leads offering better quality, higher close rates and shorter sales cycles, it s no surprise that when given a choice, a sales professional will prefer the lead calling in on the phone, rather than the lead from an online form. Despite the influence that digital and social media have on our communication patterns, studies show consumers still prefer to use the phone to speak with the companies that hold their money, manage their credit, provide their cable or phone service, and many other companies who provide the services and products they use and research every day. 2
4 This consumer behavior emphasizes how digital communication paths should not overshadow or eliminate the option to have a live, immediate and personal conversation. It only makes sense then that businesses should continue to include the primary channel a phone number that allows for a live interaction amidst the less engaging digital options. This white paper details the differences between phone and digital channels for lead generation, in the context of advertising and lead quality and value, and ultimately how businesses can drive more valuable, live sales conversations with a balanced approach of contact channels. Best Practices to Generate Higher Quality Leads and Have More Successful Sales Conversations The basic premise of marketing and sales is that lead generation is essential to growing a business. To meet marketing objectives and sales goals, leads need to be plentiful, and they also need to be qualified. Qualified lead generation is one of the toughest challenges facing businesses, but it is not impossible. In today s business environment, it is important to have multi-channel marketing and advertising efforts in place to drive an adequate quantity of leads, which can then be qualified. While there are certainly theories on which tactics and response tools are the best at driving qualified leads, there is consensus among many business owners that not all leads are of equal quality, and the best leads are those that start with a live conversation, providing a more direct path to closing a sale. Here is an overview of effective practices to drive quantity, while also generating high quality leads: 3
5 Traditional & Digital Advertising A Well-Rounded Mix The world of advertising continues to evolve as digital options become more cost-effective, and human nature drives people to the web. However, marketing experts agree that advertisers should not completely abandon the use of traditional forms of advertising, like radio, television, outdoor and even newspapers. These forms of media are still prominent in the advertising mix. Consumers have a 57.6% Average Higher Recall Rate of Vanity 800 Numbers over URLs: Respondents find it easier to recall a vanity 800 number over a URL after listening to ads featuring both response tools. - Source InfoSurv 2011 In fact, TVB, the trade association of America s commercial broadcast television industry, reported in 2012 that TV continues to be the best driver of automotive marketers, and that local TV stations are the biggest advertising category for the largest industry category that conducts TV advertising. The association reported that from January through September 2012, Chrysler committed 36% of its ad budget to local TV and saw a 14% boost in November unit sales versus November 2011 levels. Honda also increased its local TV ad spend by 38% and garnered a 39% sales bump. And, Subaru spent 95% more on spot television and was rewarded with a nearly 60% rise in November sales over The trade group also says 43% of the consumer purchase factor for automotive sales came from local TV advertising, with digital advertising (including all online usage except ) factoring into the purchase at a much lower rate of 12%. The Radio Advertising Bureau reported that the automotive industry also accounts for the top spending on radio advertising in Furthermore, BIA/Kelsey projected in 2012 that local radio ad spending will continue to grow through And, the Outdoor Advertising Association reported that Q advertising expenditures experienced the ninth consecutive quarter of revenue gains. All proof that traditional advertising is still being used by businesses in the U.S. to reach their consumers. 4
6 It s been said many times traditional advertising is still a critical component to the overall advertising strategy. Today, people watch TV while reading the newspaper, or listen to the radio while driving past billboards. And, they are also online much of the time, consuming advertising from all sources simultaneously. This is why finding the right media mix to reach the right audience at the right time takes experience, finesse, and exposure in multiple marketing channels, including a blend of digital media AND traditional media. Regardless of the types of advertising used in the media mix, choosing the response tool or call-to-action to drive consumer action is the next step. We use NEW-FORD in our radio and TV ads because it is easy for people to remember. Phone calls are more valuable than online web leads. Having an inbound phone call eliminates a few steps and shortens the sales process. - Internet Marketing Manager, Auto Dealer The Value of Inbound Phone Calls vs. Online Leads Marketers face a litany of tools to improve business performance, generate more leads, and grow their business. Often though, they are not given good direction on how to incorporate all of those tools into their multi-channel strategy so that they work together to deliver optimal leads to their sales force. Connecting with customers and building relationships is increasingly important in order for businesses to compete and survive in today s crowded and competitive marketplace. Connections can be made online through Twitter, Facebook, live chat and other social outlets, but live phone conversations are often more productive and a better way to build relationships with customers. And so, encouraging customers to contact a business by phone, to have a live conversation, still plays an extremely important role in advertising strategies. 5
7 Although it is undeniable that a company s website is becoming increasingly important as a resource for their customers, it is still not always the preferred method for the sales force, or the most easily remembered method of contact for the customers. Most recently, social media is playing a large role in the communication channels between companies and their customers. As with a website, this is not always the best way for customers to interact with a company. Tracking a company s promotions and special events can be done effectively on these social media sites but, they are not as user-friendly, or secure, when it comes to resolving customer issues as are live conversations. Consumer preferences of having live interactions with companies demonstrate that it is prudent for businesses to include a phone number in their advertising campaigns. Doing so ensures customer satisfaction, higher customer recall, as well as improved lead generation and quality. Types of Phone Numbers to Use as Response Tools The phone is the original direct response method and one that is still very much alive today. A recent study conducted by American Express Co. finds that 90% of respondents said they still want their inquiries handled by live representatives over the telephone. And, a BIA/Kelsey & Constat Local Commerce Monitor Wave study found that 65% of businesses rate phone calls as their highest quality lead source. That said there are many different types of phone numbers now available; local phone numbers, toll-free phone numbers, and vanity 800 toll-free numbers. However, when putting together an advertising strategy, it is important to understand that not all of these phone number types will perform well in all types of advertising. 6
8 The breakdown of pros and cons of each phone number type follows: In Visual Media (print ads, outdoor ads), Consumers have a 78% Average Higher Recall Rate of Vanity 800 Numbers over URLs. - Source InfoSurv 2011 In Broadcast Media (radio, TV), Consumers have a 50.8% Average Higher Recall Rate of Vanity 800 Numbers over URLs. - Source InfoSurv 2011 a. Vanity 800 Toll-free Numbers: A vanity 800 number is the strongest tool in terms of being remembered by customers, thereby generating more leads. An independent research survey of over one thousand consumers tested recall of vanity 800 numbers, versus numeric toll-free numbers, and versus URLs in advertising. The study data shows that consumers have a 75.4 percent average higher recall for a vanity number over a numeric phone number. Vanity 800 numbers, like numeric toll-free numbers, provide businesses with critical call data via call tracking systems, but vanity 800 numbers are better at building strong credibility and brand image for a business. Think of the companies you see that regularly use a vanity 800 number, GOT-JUNK, FLOWERS, CONTACTS. These successful businesses have built impressive reputations all around their vanity 800 numbers. b. Alternate Toll-free Vanity Numbers: Year-after-year, consumers actions and preferences continue to show that it is important for companies to provide a way for people to contact them for a live communication interaction. Toll-free numbers remain a powerful tool in this regard, allowing for cost-fee communication for the consumer, as well as providing a wealth of consumer data and tracking information for the advertising business. Since toll-free numbers were introduced in 1967, demand has continued to grow over time, particularly for the vanity variations. This demand created the need to add alternate toll-free prefixes, including the 888, 877, 866 and 855 versions of vanity numbers, as well as numeric tollfrees. 7
9 While the release of these new prefixes helped with the demand and supply of vanity toll-free numbers, research proves that consumers have the highest recognition of 800 as the toll-free prefix, dubbing 800 vanity numbers as true vanity 800 numbers. According to the consumer research, when possible, it is more beneficial for companies to obtain and use a true 800 toll-free number, as it is recognized by over 90% of consumers as toll-free. The recognition of alternate prefixes such as 888, 877, 866 and the newest 855 prefix, as toll-free falls significantly. c. Numeric Toll-free Numbers: It is, however, common to see businesses advertise a numeric toll-free phone number. This may be because they could not obtain a vanity toll-free number. Either way, a ten-digit numeric toll-free number can be effective at tracking leads, but it is not as easily remembered by customers, nor as effective as a vanity 800 number at generating leads. d. Local Phone Numbers: For businesses that do not spend a lot of money on advertising typically smaller businesses using a local phone number on marketing materials can be effective. In rural areas, where competition is not as intense, a business using a local phone number may resonate with their local customers. For larger businesses, or those in more competitive markets, it is not always the best response tool. In fact, the research shows that when presented with two options, a ten-digit local phone number or a vanity 800 toll-free phone number, 57% of the consumers stated that they would prefer to dial the vanity 800 number over the local phone number, citing reasons such as because the vanity number is easier to remember and is more professional looking. 8
10 We saw a significant increase in calls once we started advertising NEXT- CAR at least a 30% increase, maybe more. Our sales teams now close approximately 1 in 4, or 25%, of our phone prospects, compared to web leads, which close just 12% of the time. - Auto Dealer When to Use Which Type of Phone Number Another consideration when choosing which type of phone number to use in advertising strategies, is what type of media is being used in the campaign; radio, television, outdoor, print, or digital. For broadcast media, like radio advertising, and for outdoor media like highway billboards, both of which are fleeting and in the moment, it is important to use a phone number that will be easy to remember at a later date, and which does not need to be written down. This is where a vanity 800 number will work best. However, in print media such as magazine ads, or in digital media like online banner ads, using a numeric toll-free number is more acceptable and effective since the reader has the ability to tear out, print out, or write down the phone number they need. How to Get More Valuable Leads; Quantity and Quality It is proven that using a vanity 800 phone number (i.e. 800-NEW-CARS) in advertising campaigns, including radio, television, outdoor, and print media, will get a business 25-50% higher response rates to their advertising campaigns, and also deliver more valuable leads than if a business drives customers to contact them through their website. Numeric toll-free numbers, like vanity 800 numbers, provide businesses with critical call data through online call tracking systems, but vanity 800 numbers are better at building strong credibility and brand image for a business while also providing a memorable response tool. So, if a business s goal is to generate more incoming leads for their sales force, then advertising and branding with a vanity 800 number will be the best option to produce more leads, and get the sales force further down the path to a sale. 9
11 Tracking Leads Back to the Source to Prove Out Marketing Strategies Business executives and their teams are tasked with compiling masses of data to be categorized, analyzed, digested, and reported to management leaders and boards of directors in every imaginable form. But, is it really happening? Are companies able to take on the seemingly insurmountable responsibilities of extracting the right data that will be most useful, analyzing those metrics correctly, and then making sound business decisions? Since activating the vanity phone numbers, our client is able for the first time to benchmark advertising campaign performance, access tangible data associated with their campaigns, and evaluate media performance. - Vice President, Advertising Agency With call tracking data a company can capture and access essential customer information and discover which marketing efforts are most effective at generating sales. Metrics on the call traffic flowing through a business includes information that can help them make crucial business decisions and build a powerful database for future marketing efforts. Call tracking services provide accurate insights to answer many of the business questions that run through the minds of executives every day, and that are discussed during management meetings: 1. Are we missing potential sales calls, and how does the sales team get those callers back? 2. Are we spending our marketing and advertising dollars most effectively and in the right places? 3. How can we improve our employee training programs to reduce turn-over? 4. On average, how many unique, new leads do we have each month? 5. What are our customers telling us they need and want from our service? 6. What markets are we most successful in, and where are our advertising efforts not being effective? 7. How do we keep a pulse on what our competitors are doing? 8. Are our reps following the required script and asking for the sale? 10
12 To be successful, and to answer these questions, it is crucial for a business to have the ability to capture and access the data contained within their calls. A business can answer these questions rather easily if they use a robust call tracking system along with call recording technology. The information required to get to these answers is available in real-time, so data is up to the minute and downloadable for easy reporting and analysis. Since activating the vanity phone numbers, our client is able for the first time to benchmark advertising campaign performance, access tangible data associated with their campaigns, and evaluate media performance. - Vice President, Advertising Agency Call tracking reports quickly and easily segment your call data and provide you with tangible evidence to support strategic marketing, customer service process, and overall business decisions. Having access to this in-depth data empowers a business with accurate business intelligence and eliminates the guesswork and uncertainty about employee and customer behaviors. Conclusion The use of toll-free numbers in advertising has been around since the introduction of the tools in It is not a new concept, but it is a strategy that continues to produce results for businesses that use these tools in advertising efforts to connect with consumers. In fact, we could very well see a resurgence in the use of phone numbers as response tools, as businesses realize that to successfully navigate the progressively competitive waters, customer satisfaction is king and customer service is often the key differentiator. Despite the continuing emergence of social media outlets to advertise and communicate, research has shown that an overwhelming majority of people say they still want their inquiries handled by live representatives over the telephone as opposed to Twitter, Facebook, live chat, or other less personal communication avenues. Online communication services do not always provide the same depth of information as a live person, and cannot fix problems the way a personal conversation can. This is good news for businesses that use a phone number in their advertising campaigns as a response and lead-generation tool. 11
13 Furthermore, consumer preference and research proves that when businesses advertise with a vanity 800 toll-free number, they will see better results through more inbound calls, leads, sales and profits. About 800response An Industry Leader For 23 years, 800response has maintained the widest selection of true vanity 800 numbers available today. We offer these dynamic advertising tools to businesses throughout North America to help them drive increases in advertising response rates, improve ROI, and track cost-per-lead. In addition, 800response maintains a robust platform of toll-free tracking services including a sophisticated Call Routing platform, Real-time Call Tracking reports, and Call Monitoring services like Call Recording, CallFinder Speech Analytics, and Missed Call Monitor. A champion of toll-free industry issues, 800response participates alongside major long distance carriers in telecom regulatory meetings, and makes recommendations to the FCC on the future development of the toll-free industry. The 800response management team collectively has more than 140 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, ranging from telecom operations, technical hardware and application development, service provisioning and trouble-shooting, and regulatory and tax compliance. 800response 200 Church Street PO Box 1049 Burlington, VT Phone: Fax: /blog/ 12
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